Women should serve as army commanders
India's top court yesterday ruled that women could serve as army commanders, dismissing the government's stance that male soldiers were not ready to accept orders from female officers as "disturbing".
The Supreme Court also ordered the government to extend permanent service - which has only been applicable to men so far - to all women officers, signalling a move towards gender parity in the traditionally male bastion.
With this women will get the same opportunities and benefits as their male colleagues, including ranks, promotions and pensions, and be allowed to serve longer tenures.
Currently women are inducted through a short service commission that lets them work for up to 14 years, and only allowed permanent commission in the army's legal and educational wings.
Last week the government opposed women being appointed to top roles such as colonels and brigadiers, saying most soldiers were men from rural backgrounds who were not "mentally schooled to accept women officers in command". The government also argued that men and women officers were physically different and could not be treated equally.
The top court rebuked the government, describing its views as "disturbing" and urged "the need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the army". It, however, did not rule on deploying women in combat roles, saying a competent authority needed to decide.
India began recruiting women to non-medical positions in the armed forces in 1992, yet they make up about 4% of the army's more than one million personnel, according to latest data.